Dinner With Jim

Orginal Chili Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce is a traditional Mexican recipe of pork or beef stewed nice and slow in a rich red chili sauce.

Adobo Sauce Recipe - Dinner With Jim

Adobo Sauce


  • 4 guajillo peppers
  • 4 ancho peppers
  • 3 cups hot water (or enough to cover the dried peppers) + 1/2 cup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional for a milder flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican cinnamon (or use cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or use oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, to taste – see my NOTES on Optional Spices)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Remove the stems from the guajillo and ancho peppers and remove the seeds. You may need to cut into the peppers for this, which is fine.
  2. Heat a large pan to medium heat and dry toast the dried peppers a couple minutes per side. They will become more pliable and slightly puff up. When you dry toast them in a skillet over medium heat or medium-high heat, it helps to release the oils from the pods for more flavor.
  3. Place the dried chiles in a large bowl and cover with very hot or boiling water. Soak them for 15 minutes, or until they become very soft and rehydrate. They could take 20 minutes to 30 minutes to get very soft. Transfer the softened peppers to a food processor, but reserve the soaking liquid.
  4. While the peppers are softening, cook down the other ingredients. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan and add the onion. Cook it down for 4-5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until you it becomes fragrant.
  5. Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, sugar and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then stir in 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the mixture to a food processor along with the softened peppers and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh water, or you can use the dark liquid from soaking the peppers. Process until smooth.
  7. Adjust with salt and sugar to taste, and with a bit more water until you achieve your desired consistency. Strain if you’d like a thinner sauce, or use as-is.